Friday, April 17, 2015

ANATOMY - April Poem #16 (a day late)

Yesterday I decided to combine the prompts from Poetic Asides, to "write a science poem," and NaPoWriMo, "to write in the form known as the terzanelle. A hybrid of the villanelle and terza rima, terzanelles consist of five three-line stanzas and a concluding quatrain. Lines and rhymes are chained throughout the poem, so that the middle line of each triplet is repeated as the last line of the following triplet (or, for the last triplet, in the concluding quatrain." There's more too, about which lines are repeated verbatim and which just repeat end rhymes, and it all seemed pretty confusing and complicated to me when I first read it, so it's a good thing a couple of examples are included.
     And then the day got rather complicated too, so I wrote the first stanza, knowing that I had something to say about the necessary relationship between art and science - I don't suppose everyone will agree with me about that - and came back to finish it, or at least a first draft, this morning. And I cheated a little, which you'll be able to spot if you go to NaPoWriMo and read the complete description of what a terzanelle is. But I won't apologize for that.


Under the skin, under the fur, muscles, including the heart,
tighten and release, lungs expand and contract, tiny electrical currents
travel along nerves, keeping it all alive while someone makes art.

Twitches stir the skin, lift golden hairs upright. The cat, intent
only on sleep, sleeps on. The artist pauses, wondering at the mechanism
that tightens and releases, expands and contracts, the tiny currents

at work under the skin, under the body's canvas. Perfectionism
makes him want to capture every muscle, twitch, and hair,
so active even as the cat sleeps on. The artist wonders at the mechanism

how to freeze, distill it into a fixed image, static yet with life there,
ready to spring from the frame, given the right conditions, the right prey.
The artist wants to capture every muscle, twitch, and hair,

all that lies beneath the surface, knowing there is no way
for him to arrest in paint what is hidden but essential, what animates
the cat and would let it leap from the frame to follow the right prey.

He wishes he'd paid more attention in school, wonders if it's too late
to grasp what's under the skin, under the fur, muscles (including the heart),
the science of what is hidden but essential, that animates
what travels along the nerves, keeping it all alive so we can make art.

                   - Victoria Stefani

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